Undergraduate Program

Our undergraduate education produces young scientists and citizens who understand the scope and perspective of modern biology.

We support undergraduate scholarly endeavors, train students for an array of careers, and communicate to them the impact and significance of biology. We offer a broad range of learning opportunities, including traditional classroom experiences, hands-on learning in the field and the laboratory, independent study, and full student engagement in research. As a biology major, your career goals may include biological research, health professions, business, or education. Students who are interested in health professions have access to the Trinity College Office of Health Professions Advising. Duke students applying to medical schools and other health professions programs have enjoyed a very high acceptance rate. Those who have pursued graduate school have gone on to become highly successful biological researchers and educators at many universities throughout the world.

The specific learning outcomes of the undergraduate program include the following:

  • Thinking like a biologist:

You will develop a sophisticated appreciation of the nature of living organisms and biological processes, as well as learn how biologists approach research questions. You can accomplish this goal through two gateway courses, Biology through the Lens of Molecular Biology (Biology 201L) and Biology Through the Lenses of Genetics and Evolution (Biology 202L).

  • Describing the breadth of the discipline

Biology is a broad discipline, and therefore we expect you to acquire a foundation across the levels and subdisciplines within our field. To this end, biology majors will complete at least one course within each of three core areas—Organismal Diversity, Structure and Function, and Ecology.  

  • Using the tools and methods of modern biological research

As a biology major you are expected to be able to use the tools and methods of modern research. You will take two laboratory-based gateway courses plus at least two laboratory-based courses at the advanced level. We also encourage you to engage in independent study in a biological science research laboratory.

  • Synthesizing a range of biological concepts and ideas

Biological research has made enormous progress in our understanding of the natural world, but is still confronted with major challenges. Therefore, we want you to engage in in-depth exploration of specific fields, current ways of thinking, new discoveries, and methodologies of the discipline. All biology majors will take at least one ‘capstone’ course that builds on the core curriculum and requires undergraduates to explore disciplinary scholarship at the graduate level.

  • Developing critical thinking skills

Because biology is not just a collection of facts, but rather a way of knowing, we expect you to develop analytical and critical thinking skills, including hypothesis generation and testing. To acomplish this goal, you will be expected to write essays and critical analyses for course examinations. You may participate in open-ended project courses, as well as research experiences.

  • Communicating effectively, both orally and in writing

Biology is a highly collaborative field, and therefore we expect our majors to develop high-level writing and oral communication skills. You will have the opportunity to take special ‘writing-intensive’ and thesis preparation courses focused on the art and craft of scientific writing. In these courses, you will present research findings in poster symposia or in small seminar courses.